Cost of living crisis: 1.8 million children facing poorer quality school meals as food costs rise | UK News

About 1.8 million children face poorer quality school meals due to rising food costs, according to a new survey.

LACA, the trade body for school catering, says food prices have increased by 30 per cent since May 2022, resulting in 28 per cent of school caterers now consuming more processed foods. more variable.

More than a third of its members are also considering switching from British meat to imports.

Dersingham School in Newham, one of London’s most deprived boroughs, is launching a new menu after the fall half-term break.

Michael Hales, managing director at Juniper Ventures, which provides food services to Dersingham, explains: “We are very proud that all the meat we use in our school meals is sourced from UK, but that’s something we may need to revisit in the future.

“We’re currently cooking everything from scratch, but again, we have to include some processed foods in our sauces going forward,” he told Sky News.

“Food prices have skyrocketed this year, some items have gone up 50%. It’s been a huge challenge being able to provide meals that meet school meal guidelines every day. “

Michael Hales, managing director at Juniper Ventures
Michael Hales, managing director at Juniper Ventures

‘You can’t teach children with empty stomachs’

Dersingham Principal Lando Du Plooy explains that poor diets lead to poor schooling.

“You can’t teach children on an empty stomach, you can’t make any impact on their teaching and learning if the kids are hungry,” he told Sky News.

“If the impact then hits and hits the kids, and then we start making fast food, low quality meals that aren’t healthy for kids, then it’s going to create a whole lot of problems. around the obesity challenge we’re trying to tackle, the challenge of unhealthy meals and the unhealthy habits they lead to later in life.”

Principal Lando Du Plooy of Dersingham
Principal Lando Du Plooy of Dersingham

LACA President Brad Pearce appealed to the government for help.

“Without increased funding for school meals, the most vulnerable children in our society will not have the only hot, healthy and nutritious meal of the day,” he said.

“We’re also urging the government to raise the threshold for FSM (free school meals) for all children whose parents are on Universal Credit, to ensure that no child misses out. missed school lunch.

“A hungry child cannot learn, but for too many children, this may soon become their reality.”

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The prices of the cheapest foods skyrocketed

What does the government say?

A government spokesman said: “We have expanded access to free school meals more than any other government in recent decades, now home to around 1.9 million children. em.

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“We are also supporting schools with £53.8 billion in primary funding this year and a £4 billion increase in total funding between 2021 and 22.

“The Prime Minister has announced a new growth plan, taking decisive action to get households and businesses through this winter and next, by growing the economy to raise levels of live for everyone.”


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